Sunday, February 12, 2017

La Ruta de las Flores, El Salvador, el doce de Febrero, 2017

I've been having trouble saving and publishing my blog for the last 2 days, in fact both days completely disappeared last night so I had to redo it but wouldn't you know it, this morning it published as if I had the best internet in the world.  Maybe Sundays people sleep in so there's more air space out there?

I absolutely love this hotel.  There's a small kitchen for guests but it's so cheap to eat out, I don't know why anyone would cook.  The garden, so typical inside the walls of the homes, is also very inviting-

I had a big day, going to four different villages along La Ruta de Las Flores.  My first stop was Apaneca which is super small but there are a few painted shops-

I had desayunos typico then visited the church-

Laguna Verde, a crater lake, is 2.5 miles uphill from town, sometimes on one lane clay, rocky roads.  I did not enjoy driving up but luckily didn't meet anyone because it would have been a long way to back down to a possible passing point.  Laguna Verde should be called Slough Verde because that's all it is-

After Apaneca I went to Concepción de Ataco.  This pueblo was by far my most favourite-

  There are so many murals on the buildings-

Even the hardware store participates-

A trike made especially for Treenie-

There is always a church at Parque Central-

El Carmen is a coffee finca just outside of Concepción de Ataco.  It was built in 1930 and still uses the original equipment.  They have 580,000 coffee bushes and they also process and market the fruit for numerous local farmers-

Fruit from each farm goes into a numbered bin-

Water is pumped into the bin and the fruit is sent via a pipe-

to separators that beat off the red skin-

From there, it's transferred to bins where fermentation occurs in 6 to 14 hours.  The slimy part comes off-

and then it's transferred via more pipes-

 to the drying floor-

where it's moved around every few hours for 14 days-

Honey coffee-

still has the mucousy stuff on it (it hasn't been through fermentation) so it dries in clumps and tastes sweet.

Sometimes there isn't enough floor space so the coffee is bagged and put into dryers at 50 degrees centigrade for 2 days.  The dryers hold 10,000 pounds of coffee.  Once it's dry, it is bagged and stored until a buyer is found-

When a buyer is found, it goes through a series of screens to beat off the parchment-

and then it's hand cleaned and sorted.  These are poor beans-

And these are top quality-

Women hand sort-

sitting at a table for 8 hours/day looking for rocks and sticks and diseased beans.  North America will accept 0-8% imperfections but Japan and Europe will only accept 0 to 4%.  If the sample of 300 grams has more than that, it is resorted.  The women have 2 minutes to sort before the conveyor belt moves the beans along.  Companies that buy from El Carmen include Starbucks and Illy.  Most companies want to roast their own beans so the green beans are sent away in 150 pound bags-

Local coffee is roasted on site at 300 degrees for 20 minutes-

Beans are ground-

and packaged-

Imperfect coffee is sold as Classico (red) mostly to El Salvador.  The top quality is Gourmet (gold) and Classico (silver) contains 60% gourmet, 40% Classico.  The really really bad stuff is used for instant!  No wonder it tastes so bad!

We tasted the gourmet beans from this coffee maker.  The filter is made from cheese cloth and the water should be about 93 degrees C.  It was very smooth with good aroma and flavor.  The darker the bean, the more flavor and the less caffeine-

The fruit is ready from November to March.  Men, women and children pick daily.  An average picker picks 100 pounds/day but a good picker will pick 200-250 pounds.  They make $6.40 US for 100 pounds.  

I headed south from Concepción de Ataco, back towards Juayua.  The drive is very pretty.  11 volcanoes surround the area-

Juayua is in the distance-

My next stop was Salcoatitan where there is a nice church-

and a wooden furniture industry-

My next stop was Nahuizalco where Parque Central is very modern-

with a lot of Valentine decorations-

The church is also nice-

There are a lot of craft tables, all selling the same trinkety junk.  I don't know how they make a living-

I headed back to Juayau after an excellent day but was disappointed in the lack of flowers and this is supposed to be the season.  I saw a few yellow trees-

and pink and orange bushes-

It was a good food day with a pupusa for lunch-

and tostados for supper-

I have really enjoyed El Salvador but am looking forward to flying to Managua, Nicaragua tomorrow!

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